Monday, September 07, 2009

Dirty Tricks by George and Ben

Academic as well as anecdotal historians have pretty well established the fact that information gatherers in Naval intelligence, Army G-3, and the State department all had scraps of information that, cobbled together by a fifth grader, would have forewarned the U.S.A. about the Pearl Harbor attack by Japan on December 7, 1941.

That’s why we have the CIA today. That’s why FDR tasked his Harvard classmate and political adversary Colonel “Wild Bill” Donovan to create and develop the CIA’s precursor Office of Strategic Services (OSS).

This infuriated the Army, Navy and Diplomatic establishments all of which laid claim to the important job of analyzing and evaluating information from overseas for the Chief Executive’s National Security Council.

America had never had a central clearing house for espionage, covert operations or “dirty tricks” before, and it all tehn accreted rather like “Topsy” in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

But the military intelligence and espionage work has a long history, of which many Americans in 2009 are not aware.

George Washington was a magnificent and successful Spymaster—as every one of his biographers attests. He hanged every British spy he caught, despite whimperings of many lily-livered colleagues, who begged him not to. We only have full account of the handsome, debonair John Andre’ who was very popular among America’s new politico-military elite.. He was General Benedict Arnold’s cohort on the Hudson and elsewhere.

But General Washington had a genius for disinformation and strategic and tactical legerdemain also. He could “shuck and jive” with the best of them, poker-faced.

That is one of the secrets behind his losing so many battles and winning a war of revolution.

His manipulation of the Hessian mercenaries was one of his masterstrokes.

Well, they weren’t REALLY mercenaries, because they got none of the paid money. King George III, who was Hanoverian Prussian himself, made a deal with Prince Frederic II of Hesse-Cassel for about 30, 000 soldiers to bolster the British expeditionary force in the “colonies”. In the deal, the Hessian Prince received a flat sum for the lot and a BONUS payment for each Hessian killed by the Americans.

Having learned all this from some of the 900 Hessians he captured on Christmas Day at the Battle of Trenton, General Washington got Benjamin Franklin to craft a letter, in the best traditional Teutonic-Hessian style, (and in diplomatic French) ostensibly penned by Prince Frederick, complaining that “not enough of our officers and soldiers are in harm’s way” and “we are not receiving the promised amount of bonus” agreed upon for use of our army”.

Dissemination of this letter, printed by Franklin in Philadelphia and circulated throughout New York and Pennsylvania brought about the disaffection, mutiny and surrender to Washington of 6,000 Hessian officers and troops in 1777 and 1778 and declining morale on until 1781. There were only 13, 000 of the original 30,000 Hessian troops remaining to be captured at the final battle of Yorktown in 1781.

The rest were already either supporting Washington’s army or setting on their 50 acre far-acre farms in Pennsylvania—in the heart of what is now “Pennsylvania Dutch” Country.

Therefore, the CIA did NOT (as the bed wetters would have you believe) invent horrid, nasty, ungentlemanly, unsavory “Dirty Tricks” in U.S. armed combat.

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